Punalau Falls

Hana Highway (Maui Island), Hawaii, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 2
Punalau Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

Punalau Falls is a relatively hidden yet gorgeous 100ft waterfall. In fact, it's not visible from the road (we missed this on our first two Hana Highway excursions) so in order to see this waterfall, I had to earn it with a real tricky and nontrivial 800ft stream scramble over a bunch of volcanic boulders. I definitely had to watch my footing and go slow for it was real easy to turn an ankle or get cut on one of the sharp rocks (watch out for leptospirosis if that's the case). The waterfall itself blocked any further upstream progress. In hindsight, I wish I had brought a hiking stick and sticky rubber water shoes to negotiate the slippery and sometimes submerged boulders in the stream.

I think it took me about 15 minutes each way though it could've easily been as little as 10 minutes or as much as 30 minutes I reckon, depending on stream levels. It was in pretty low flow during my visit.

Given the nature of stream scrambling and the narrowness of the gulch, I really had to watch out for flash floods and falling rocks. If it’s raining or you notice dark clouds upslope (even if it’s fine along the Hana Highway), do not attempt this scramble! You’ll have nowhere to go if a sudden wall of water comes rushing towards you! The whole time I did this scramble, it was always on my mind.

By the way, I suspect just about every gulch in the windward slopes of East Maui (comprised of the Haleakala Volcano) has at least a waterfall. That's because volcanos tend to leave behind very hard rock layers that are more resistant to erosion by water than most of the softer rock layers. Thus, you have the conditions necessary for waterfall formation.

So even though Punalau Falls is being pointed out here (thanks to the Blue Bible pointing it out), I'd imagine stream scrambles in other gulches would yield similar results. I have to believe that was what the authors of that book had the time to do and subsequently did. And that's why they were able to trailblaze and identify many of the obscure waterfalls this side of Maui.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

One of the more notable non-waterfall attractions of East Maui was Waianapanapa State ParkOne of the more notable non-waterfall attractions of East Maui was Waianapanapa State Park
If you can make it all the way around East Maui, we definitely recommend doing so, especially for sights like the Pokowai Sea ArchIf you can make it all the way around East Maui, we definitely recommend doing so, especially for sights like the Pokowai Sea Arch
View of boulders fronting Punalau FallsView of boulders fronting the falls. This photo perhaps best tells you the awkward scrambling required to get here.

A closer look at Punalau FallsA closer look at the falls


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS




[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The Punalau Falls pullout is just beyond the far side of the Punalau Stream bridge, 0.25 miles past the 13-mile post. A primitive path leads from the pullout right down into the stream to start the waterfall scramble.

For some context, the drive to get here from Ka'anapali or Lahaina was at least 52 miles (2 hours drive). Coming from Hana, it would be 21 miles (an hour drive) going northwest.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES

-->



[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.



[Back to top]

[Go to the Maui Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Hawai'i Page]

[Return from Punalau Falls to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]